Research – Brain Research

Research – Brain Research


Adolescent Alcohol Dependence May Damage Brain Function

A study in the February 2000 Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (Volume 24, Number 2) presents the first concrete evidence that protracted, heavy alcohol use can impair brain function in adolescents. It is unclear at present whether the damage is reversible.

Alcohol and the Adolescent Brain – Human Studies

Alcohol Research & Health. Vol. 28(4), 2004-2005, 205-212
Many people begin to drink alcohol during adolescence and young adulthood. Alcohol consumption during this developmental period may have profound effects on brain structure and function. Heavy drinking has been shown to affect the neuropsychological performance (e.g., memory functions) of young people and may impair the growth and integrity of certain brain structures. Furthermore, alcohol consumption during adolescence may alter measures of brain functioning, such as blood flow in certain brain regions and electrical brain activities. Not all adolescents and young adults are equally sensitive to the effects of alcohol consumption, however. Moderating factors-such as family history of alcohol and other drug use disorders, gender, age at onset of drinking, drinking patterns, use of other drugs, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders-may influence the extent to which alcohol consumption interferes with an adolescent’s normal brain development and functioning.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Adolescent Brain-What Can Be Learned From Animal Models

Alcohol Research & Health. 2004; Vol. 28, No. 4
Because of legal and ethical constraints on alcohol research in human adolescents, many studies of alcohol’s effects on the developing brain have been conducted in animal models, primarily rats and mice. The adolescent brain may be uniquely sensitive to alcohol’s effects because major changes in brain structure and function occur during this developmental period. For example, adolescent animals are more sensitive than adults to the effects on memory and learning that result from alcohol’s actions on the hippocampus. Conversely, adolescent animals appear to be less sensitive than adults to alcohol-related motor impairment, alcohol-induced sedation, and the development of seizures during withdrawal. Alcohol exposure during adolescence can have long-lasting effects and may interfere with normal brain functioning during adulthood.


Research – Brain Research
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